December Is A Busy Month For Rocket Launches: Here Are What To Expect
Aside from spending the holidays with loved ones, there are more to expect this month. December is shaping up to be a very busy launch month not only for the United States but also across the globe, from satellite launches to the most anticipated Falcon 9.
First off, a European Vega rocket will launch with Gokturk 1 reconnaissance satellite for the Turkish military. It is expected to launch from Kourou, French Guiana, on Dec. 5. Two days after, Pentagon's latest Wideband Global Satcom, WGS-8, is scheduled for launch on Dec. 7. It will be the first to carry upgraded technology and electronics, allowing it to handle 45 percent more traffic than the previous WGS satellites, Space Flight Insider reports.
At the same time in Asia, India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will launch the country's Resources 2A Earth observation satellite. It is designed to observe and support agriculture and urban planning, monitor land and water resources use and aid officials respond to natural calamities.
China would not let other countries have the limelight this month. It has scheduled to launch the Fengyun 4A geostationary weather satellite for the China Meteorological Administration, Space Flight Now reports. It is designed to collect images from storm systems, lightning maps, observations of space weather and atmospheric sounding measurements. It will launch from Xichang, China on Dec. 11.
On Dec. 16, SpaceX Falcon 9 will launch 10 satellites for the Iridium next mobile communication fleet. It was supposed to launch in August but was moved to September. However, it was not able to launch so they decided to pursue it in the last month of 2016. It will launch from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Japan, on the other hand, will launch its Epsilon rocket with JAXA's Exploration of Energization and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) satellite to investigate the Van Allen radiation belts. It's the second installation of Japan's small Epsilon launch vehicle.
Just a day after Christmas, China will launch its Long March 2D rocket with the SuperView 1 and 2 Earth observation satellites. These are from the Beijing Space View Technology Co., the satellites will give sub-meter-high resolution photos for both commercial and civilian customers in the country.